Life Itself

We went to go see “Life Itself,” the new documentary on Roger Ebert. It is a beautiful film, and both Lisa and I strongly recommend it.

I think there are people in this world who are just remarkably different in ways that are hard to fully comprehend. Roger Ebert was one of those kinds of guys, and this movie opens the door just far enough to let you see exactly what a maestro of life he really was.

When I was younger he was a marker. He and Gene Siskel made movies interesting. But as I grew older and started to understand what it took for a pair of people to talk like he (and Siskel did), I think things changed. In the last 15-20 years he moved into a different category. He had a voice, a position that he could always make me see. When Lisa and I would see a film, the first thing we did when we got home was to read Ebert’s views. Most of the time he added depth to things that helped us appreciate the work that goes into the craft of filmmaking, or helped us understand the film’s place in the history of theater, or … well … he always added something of value.

Lisa and I took a brief walk this evening after the film, and I told her that I always thought Siskel and Ebert were fun to watch because it was the rare case of getting to watch two people who actually know what they are talking about discuss the world they care about. I’ll stand by that. Of course, some of the best moments of “Life Itself” come in the form of conversation with the two of them.

Then came the last years of his life, and his use of the net is ways that others couldn’t.

He lived a notable life that is worth remembering, and that alone would be enough to make me suggest you see the film. But I think the heart of Roger Ebert’s story is formed of his relationship to Chaz (his wife) and his relationship to his work. I won’t say more than that, except to say that I think Roger Ebert was a remarkable person, and the film seems, to me, to be worthy of the man and the life he lived.

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